Rail fares are set to “rocket” next year, with European owners of UK train services “robbing” passengers to hold down their domestic prices, a new study claims.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union published a prediction of rail fares, which will rise in line with August’s RPI inflation.
The RMT calculated what a 3.5% increase would be on some key routes, claiming that passengers travelling on services operated by Italian, German and Dutch state railways will be paying much more than elsewhere in the EU for comparable journeys run by the same company.
The union said travellers on Arriva North railways, owned by German state-owned company Deutsche Bahn, are paying a third more than their counterparts on similar services run by the same operator in Germany.
Passengers in the UK travelling on C2C which operates in the South and South East and is owned by Italian state-owned company Trenitalia, are paying 2.4 times more than their counterparts on similar services run by the same operator in Italy.
And passengers in the UK travelling on Greater Anglia railways, which is part owned by Dutch national rail operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen, are paying twice as much as their Dutch counterparts on similar services run by the same operator in the Netherlands.
RMT general secretary, Mick Cash, said: “UK rail passengers should be bracing themselves for the fare hike announcement next month.
“As inflation is running high, it will be yet more grim news for workers struggling to make ends meet.
“To add insult to injury, passengers travelling on lines in the UK operated by Italian, German and Dutch state railways, could be paying around two and a half times more than their counterparts on comparable journeys on the continent run by the same operator.
“It is a national scandal that this Government is perpetuating by allowing more foreign state owned outfits to bid for British rail services, while simultaneously blocking any British public ownership of our railways.”
The rate of RPI inflation for the year to July, due to be announced on August 15, will set the increase in regulated fares, which will come in from January 2018.
A Department for Transport spokesperson said: “The Government has always put passengers first and we have ensured that the fares we regulate can rise no faster than inflation for four years running.
“We keep rail fares policies under review and we are not yet in a position to comment on next year’s fares.”